12. Marx's Theory of History

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Foundations of Modern Social Thought (SOCY 151)

We consider closely Marx's Grundrisse, written between The German Ideology and Das Kapital. In the Grundrisse, Marx revisits and revises his theory of historical change. Previously, he argued that history is characterized by a uni-linear increase in the division of labor. He also argued that class struggle caused revolutionary transitions from one mode of production to the next—slavery to feudalism to capitalism—and that Communism will be the last form of production. In the Grundrisse, Marx develops a theory of historical change focused on property relations and ownership. In addition, he depicts a more complex, multi-linear development of history. The facet of Marx which he exhibits in the Grundrisse tends not to be the one that is widely remembered, but understanding the nuances he presents there is crucial to fully understand his idea of history and historical change and the role of property in capitalism and Communism.

00:00 - Chapter 1. The Many Facets of Karl Marx
08:31 - Chapter 2. "Grundrisse": Major Themes
14:47 - Chapter 3. Centrality of Division of Labor in "The German Ideology"
20:31 - Chapter 4. Modes of Production
33:33 - Chapter 5. New Contributions in "Grundrisse"
40:50 - Chapter 6. Multiple Trajectories in "Grundrisse"

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Fall 2009.